For those with diabetes who plan to consume alcohol, some careful planning can help make the difference in helping to keep blood sugar levels stable.
This is especially important if you are using insulin or medications to help control blood sugar.
If you are not safe, alcohol can interfere with those medications and can complicate a variety of medical conditions.
The risk of low blood sugar is increased by drinking alcohol.
Normally, the liver releases glucose to maintain blood sugar levels. But when you drink alcohol, the liver has to break the alcohol down; this affects the job of releasing glucose into the bloodstream. The result can be a drop in blood sugar levels, especially if you are drinking on an empty stomach.
The more alcohol you consume, the more at risk you are for low blood sugar (this is true regardless of diabetes).
If you choose to consume alcohol, here are 10 tips to help you drink safely and to help keep your blood sugar stable:
1. Do talk to your doctor about whether alcohol is safe for you and will not interact with any medications you may be prescribed to control your diabetes.
2. Do make sure you are in a good blood sugar range before you drink alcohol and only drink when it is safe.
3. Do wear an I.D. or medical bracelet at all times that states you have diabetes. Alcohol lowers your blood sugar and can mimic or exacerbate symptoms of hypoglycemia such as dizziness, disorientation and sleepiness.
4. Do make sure you limit your alcoholic beverages to reduce the impact on blood sugar. Women with diabetes are advised to drink 1 or fewer alcoholic drinks while men with diabetes are advised to drink 2 or fewer alcoholic drinks daily. One alcoholic drink equals a 5 oz. glass of wine, 12 oz. beer or 1 ½ oz. “shot” of whiskey, vodka, gin, etc.
5. Do sip a drink slowly and savor it to make it last.
6. Do remember that you don't "need" alcohol to have a good time!
7. Do reduce the alcohol content of your drinks. Mix your wine with a spritzer, use ice cubes that will melt or even add a bit of water to drinks.
8. Do drink hydrating beverages, such as: unsweet tea, water, or club soda instead of regular sodas and juices.
9. Do have a snack or meal before you drink alcohol. Without food in your stomach, your blood sugar levels might already be low. Choose foods that fuel good blood sugar and contain a blend of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats such as Extend Nutrition snacks. The 17 flavors, created by Dr. Francine Kaufman, are the only ones clinically proven to help control blood sugar for up to 9 hours.
10. Do check your blood sugar before going to sleep. If it is below 100 mg/dl, the American Diabetes Association recommends eating a bedtime snack. Clinical studies show that Extend Nutrition snacks are effective in reducing overnight hypoglycemia up to 75 percent and reducing morning hyperglycemia by an average of 28 percent.
For more great tips, subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.